NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 13, 2014

Wenham breaks ground on new veterans memorial

(Continued)

The monument will be set amid a circular stone plaza with benches and bordered by plenty of greenery.

“I think it’s an excellent spot for it,” said Gordon Wildes, a former commander of the Essex Legion who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

He and his late brothers would be eligible to have their names on the monument. Their names are already on a wooden memorial that used to stand next to the old Town Hall. The marker was removed during renovations, said Blanchard. Because the wood rotted and needed replacing, a committee was tasked to replace the former memorial in November 2007, Blanchard said.

Why did the effort take so long?

“There were some concerns about where it would be located. There were people in town, you know, some wanted it across the street, some wanted it here,” said Hill, in an interview after the ceremony. “... They ultimately decided it would be here.”

Paying for the memorial also posed a challenge, and much of it was paid for through fundraising.

“The whole project, when it’s complete, will be about $240,000,” said Blanchard. A town press release pegged the cost at $219,000. The bulk of the money will be used to build the monument, Blanchard said, about $189,000. The rest will be used for landscaping.

Hill said the town put in some money, and the committee received state grants totaling $15,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services.

“We knew that this project needed and deserved state partnership,” Tarr said. “These days that’s difficult to find, given the tight state budgets that that we face and the fiscal constraints that we face. But we knew that if we could see this kind of effort develop locally, that the state just had to be a partner.”

Blanchard said businesses and private citizens stepped up. The committee is still looking to raise money for the final phase.

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